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Description

Lisa Morgan is Head of Islands and Marine at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. In 2013, whilst Warden on Ramsey Island, Lisa spotted an Atlantic grey seal cow with a distinctive netting constriction scar. Lisa recalls the sighting below.

For accompanying photographs, please see: https://www.peoplescollection.wales/story/1618531

Transcript as follows:

"I am Lisa Morgan, head of islands and marine at the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and I have always loved grey seals. I have been lucky enough to spend most of my career studying them around the Pembrokeshire islands.
There is one little female seal that really sticks in my mind – she was an injured seal rescued from a beach in Cornwall back in February 2010. This little cow had a really traumatic start to her life: at just 3 months old she was spotted on the beach at Perranporth by a really worried member of the public. She had become entangled in some netting which was causing severe restriction wounds to her neck, around her fore-flippers and her belly. Luckily the onlookers had the good sense to contact the national seal sanctuary with is based in Gweek. The seal was quickly located and captured by the experienced volunteers from the seal hospital. Fortunately she was found to be in quite good condition, the netting was removed and she was treated for any infections by a vet. However she was definitely going to need a few months rehabilitation and a name was needed. She was christened ‘Bagshot’ by the hospital and fitted with a blue hind flipper tag, which is quite normal for rescued seals. In May 2010 Bagshot was successfully released back into the wild, along with 3 other seals that had been carefully rehabilitated at the sanctuary that winter.
Skip forward to October 2013 when I was the warden on Ramsey Island. I was completing my weekly seal survey and visiting a really busy beach called The Bachelor Pad on Ramsey’s south east coast. No pups are born on this beach but it is a really popular site for grey seals – they haul out to sleep, and moult their coats over winter. It was here that I spotted a seal with a netting constriction around her front flippers. She was jostling for position among the 90 animals on the beach. The light was fading fast but I did have my camera and a long lens, which meant that I could take a photo or two. When I got home I put the photos on the computer and, despite the poor quality of the images, the animal’s old wounds were really obvious. I couldn’t be sure but it did also look like there might be a blue tag on the rear flipper. I saw the same animal a couple of months later, and I contacted my neighbours on Skomer Island and asked if they had seen the same animal and it turned out they had. So we contacted the Cornwall seal group to see if they knew the animal too, and the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. It turned out this seal was Bagshot – alive and well, nearly 4 years old and busy visiting sites in West Wales.
I can’t help thinking what a lucky seal she is: to be spotted and reported by a member of the public in the first place, then cared for by the seal sanctuary. And what a fitting reward for all their hard work, and the time and money they invested in this animal. Had the netting not been removed it may have proved fatal as she grew, and it constricted ever tighter around her body. What I really want to know now is whether she will live to breed herself and produce her own pups."

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